Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2012

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Barbara Fox

Second Advisor

Kira Hall

Third Advisor

Andy Cowell


This paper looks at how improvisational actors use multi-modal contextualization cues to create rich and detailed imagined spaces with only the barest of built, material context. Using conversation analytic and ethnomethodological methodologies this paper examines three professional long-form improvisational performances. Beyond speech actors use bodily and visual cues, vocal quality and prosody. These cues become resources for actors to construct the imagined material context, character categories, character relationships and re-contextualize or edit the ongoing action of the overall performance.

collaborativechairs.avi (3750 kB)
video clip

EndofAAmeeting.avi (7880 kB)
video clip

independenceDay.avi (9443 kB)
video clip